With all of the known uses for essential oils – from calming aromatherapy to cleansing and plenty in between – it may come as no surprise that supporting oral health is among them.
And it’s not just the spearmint or peppermint oils you might think of, although those are among the most commonly used. Others favor oils such as tea tree and myrrh for their antimicrobial properties.
Research points to yet other oils that can play a role in oral health. For instance, one recent study in the Iraqi Dental Journal found that a sage mouthwash may be useful for treating gum disease and mouth ulcers.
Sage extract was found to be effective as anti-inflammatory product against gingival inflammation and mouth ulcers and [the] present study confirmed the efficacy of the plant.
Other medicinal plants that have been shown to have oral health uses include ginger to relieve toothaches, caraway for an antiseptic, and the less common tulsi for immune stimulation and pain relief. Lemongrass, clove, cinnamon, cedarwood, and eucalyptus are among other oils that have been studied and found to control oral pathogens effectively.
Now, a new review bears out the ability of essential oil mouthwashes to help control plaque and reduce early stage gum disease.
The authors evaluated 16 trials involving more than 4000 patients. Overall, the evidence showed that those who used an essential oil rinse had better plaque and gingival scores than patients in control groups.
In patients with gingivitis, EO-containing mouthwashes are more efficacious for the reduction of plaque and gingival inflammation than mechanical plaque control either alone (placebo) or in combination with mouthwashes with CPC [cetylpyridium chloride, an antiseptic used in some mouthwashes and other oral hygiene products].
This echoes earlier research, such as the 2015 JADA review of 29 studies published between 1980 and 2012. To be included, a study had to run 6 months or longer, and be “randomized, observer-masked, placebo-controlled, and with individual-level site-specific data.” Overall, results showed that
Addition of daily rinsing with an EO mouth rinse to mechanical oral hygiene provided statistically significantly greater odds of having a cleaner and healthier mouth, which may lead to prevention of disease progression.
Similarly, a 2007 review in the Journal of Periodontology concluded that
When used as an adjunct to unsupervised oral hygiene, EO provides an additional benefit with regard to plaque and gingivitis reduction as compared to a placebo or control.
But there’s another benefit to using an essential oils rinse, as well. It’s often easier to find formulations that don’t contain fluoride or alcohol. Or you can easily make your own at home. Be sure to use high quality, organic oils.
One simple recipe from Dr. Axe involves only mixes 5 drops of peppermint essential oil, 5 drops of tea tree essential oil, and 2 cups of spring water.
You’ll find countless variations through search, as well.
Have a favorite DIY essential oil rinse of your own? Or a manufactured EO rinse you particularly like? Tell us about it in the comments!
Image by Honolulu Media